Monday, October 26, 2009

I slurped ramen at Samurai Noodle...

From N.

I love soup so much I am always sort of sad when the weather is warm and makes soup-eating uncomfortable. (This is coming from a person who passed four winters in Alaska, so take it with a grain or two of salt.) In celebration of a major downpour this morning, I went to Samurai Noodle for hot ramen soup.

I last ate there about a year ago, and had this vague memory of being unimpressed. My favorite ramen in the area is the shoyo (salt) ramen at Ginza in Bellevue, but many others love Samurai, with a wait even at lunch on a Monday, so I thought I'd give the much-closer Samurai a second try.

A simple menu can be a beautiful thing. Samurai does not subscribe to that philosophy. There are so many add ons, I didn't know what to do. The basic bowls include a pork, chicken, pork and chicken or soy and seaweed broth options. A tonkatsu bowl is already priced at $6.75, and I decided a basic bowl surely was good enough, so I didn't order more meat, broth, noodle or fixings like sliced hard-boiled eggs. I should have.

My bowl arrived with noodles, black mushrooms, scallions and a pork slice and a smallish amount of broth. Ramen is all about the broth, and Samurai's is rich and hearty, but not complex in the deep, savory way that makes you pledge to eat soup every day the rest of your life. The noodles also were too thin to give a satisfying chew, even when ordered firm. The roast pork is undeniably tender, yet still can't compare to the meltingly soft pork belly that comes in a Ginza bowl. And after awhile, I was bored with just noodles and pork. I wanted egg, bamboo, something.

I turned to cream puffs. Samurai is right outside Uwajimaya's food court, so after I spooned up my last bit of broth, I made a beeline for Beard Papa's.

If you haven't had a Beard Papa's cream puff, you must. For $2.15, you get a fresh puff filled with a lovely custard that is smooth, yet light and perfectly sweet. It was divine.

Yes, there's cream in that puff. Samurai might be worth it if you include the cream puff, but it's not worth the wait. If I want the real deal thing for fresh ramen, next time I'll brave the bridge and head out to Bellevue for my Ginza fix.

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